New tour package offerings under new travel norm

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by BERNAMA

TOURISM industry players will facilitate and participate in the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) phase, following the announcement made by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said travel agents will be offering new packages that comply with the guidelines provided for the recovery phase as airlines are now offering domestic flights.

“We have earlier prepared safety and health protocols to protect frontline workers and tourists, and we are ready to welcome domestic tourism,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

He added that tour agents will be recommending food and beverage outlets with the highest health and safety protocols for its customers to prevent any virus transmission.

“Tour packages will have offerings such as nature, adventure, rural and private tours, and we are looking at smaller group sizes and avoiding crowded places,” he said.

Matta VP Mohd Akil Yusof said local industry players would have to promote domestic tourism aggressively to develop people’s interest in travelling safely.

“It is very important as the standard operating procedures (SOPs) would have to balance between being interesting and attractive, while maintaining safety.

“Similarly, online travel agencies from overseas should band together to encourage and assist local travel agents to promote domestic travel, as they make profit and are not investing it back for the interest of fellow Malaysians,” he said.

Mohd Akil added that the association is still studying the actions to be taken moving forward with the recovery phase.

“Our immediate action is to ask the government to open our borders earlier than Aug 31, especially with countries that are not as affected by Covid-19 such as Brunei, Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand,” he said.

Meanwhile, the hotel industry, which has been highly impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, is also ready to receive and serve guests.

The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) CEO Yap Lip Seng said the SOPs had always been a part and parcel of hotel operations.

“In a recent survey we conducted, out of the 402 hotels that responded, we recorded 96% adoption of SOPs in reference to safety, health and hygiene practices for Covid-19, with the balance minority awaiting to resume operations,” he said.

The survey also reported slow but consistent pickup of onward demand or hotel bookings for the coming months, with hotels responding to demands which indicated people’s need to travel and taking advantage of promotions and packages offered by hotels by the third quarter (3Q) and 4Q of this year.

“Steady demand is also seen for next year, signalling confidence in recovery and the new norm as part of travel,” he said.

According to MAH, Kedah, Perak, Johor, Pahang and Kelantan are all expecting short-term or immediate bookings, while Langkawi and Negri Sembilan are looking at year-end increased interest.

Terengganu, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak have been seeing consistent bookings for both 3Q and 4Q, while Penang, Melaka and Sabah are looking at steady demand growth until the 1Q21.

Yap added that with the announcement of the RMCO, the industry should be expecting pickup in not only leisure travel, but also business travellers.

“Although in general, hotels are investing and spending more to comply with SOPs, the public do not have to expect increased cost of hotel stays with many offering attractive packages and promotions for bookings made directly from hotels’ websites.

“With the industry moving into the first stage of recovery which is domestic tourism, we need to plan ahead for the international inbound market when the borders are opened, which will involve concerted efforts to market and promote Malaysia by both the private sector and the government,” he said.